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Jewish columnist denies Israel's prior knowledge of London bombings

*** The only mention of Israel's apparent prior knowledge of the London bombings in the corporate mass media in Britain appears to be a long and convoluted argument against this hypothesis written by a wealthy Jewish columnist in The Times newspaper who quickly changes the subject to the "War on Terror" and why we must all support it. ***

"By way of deception, thou shalt do war"
-- Mossad motto.

Politeness in the photocopier queue is why we're losing the War on Terror
Daniel Finkelstein

I’M FURIOUS. According to the Associated Press and an assorted mixture of internet nutters [he forgets to mention Israeli Army Radio and Israel National News], the Israelis were tipped off about the London attacks moments before they happened. Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was able to change his plans to visit a hotel directly above one of the blast sites. It’s a repeat of the old canard about 9/11. You know the one — the Jews had been warned and stayed away from the World Trade Centre.

You can see why I’m cross. If the Israeli Government knew, why didn’t they tell me? Don’t they regard me as a sufficiently important intelligence asset? Mossad was, it seems, willing to leave it to chance that I took the car in last Thursday. Uncharacteristically sloppy, I’d say.

Not many people in this country believe this barmy conspiracy theory, but I think its very existence is telling us something. In fact I think it is telling us why, for all the coverage about stiff upper lips and stoic Londoners, we are losing the War on Terror.

I’m not the first person to say this, of course. It is quite common to make this point and to argue that George Bush and Tony Blair are to blame. But I’ve got a rather different culprit in mind. Actually this is a bit embarrassing, because we don’t know each other very well and we’ve always rubbed along fine until now, but I think the real culprit is . . . well, I think it is you.

Let me start in the queue for the photocopier. Ellen Langer, the distinguished Harvard social psychologist, conducted a fascinating experiment in just such a queue. Addressing her fellow queuers in the library, she said: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Surprisingly 60 per cent of those asked complied and let her push to the front. Then, with other groups, she tried a different tack: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush.” You won’t be surprised to learn that this time 94 per cent let her by. After all, “I’m in a rush” is a decent reason for seeking a favour.

But now get this. Langer also tried asking: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies.” This time 93 per cent complied. In other words, it wasn’t the quality of the reason she gave that led people to agree to her request, but the mere fact that she provided a reason at all.

We are desperate to understand why things happen and to make sense of whatever reason we are given, even when there is no reason worth making sense of. And ever since 9/11 this hunger for understanding has let us down. This week we have all talked about how life goes on unchanged and how nobody can push us around and how we must never give in to terrorism, as if the events of the past four years haven’t given the lie to every one of these propositions.

Few Westerners may subscribe to the “Jews did it” theory (though a vast number of Arabs do) but other, hardly more credible, “reasons” have attracted much greater support. It was Bush’s fault, it was Blair’s fault, it was the fault of American policy in the Middle East, it was the fault of all of us who have done nothing about the desperation of alienated Muslims. So many seem incapable of accepting that these things happen just because criminals do criminal things. It is no more interesting to understand their reasoning than to find out what the Yorkshire Ripper thinks about prostitutes.

And the more we search for reasons, the more we have aided the terrorists. For our political collapse, the collapse in public resolve since 9/11, has been quite astonishing. That’s what I mean when I say it’s all your fault.

Let’s do the maths. Ultimate victory may be beyond the terrorists’ reach. Apart from anything else I’m not sure they would realise they had won even when it was all over. But just because they can’t win, doesn’t mean we can’t lose. And I believe that is exactly what we are doing.

The past four years have seen Europeans turn against America, Nato teeter on the verge of collapse and the Government of Spain fall as the direct result of a terrorist outrage. Tony Blair, so brave in his response to terror, had to creep back to No 10 after the election, badly damaged, his political base cracked. Israel, always controversial, is now commonly talked about as if it were a pariah state.

Most astonishing of all has been our loss of self-confidence. On Thursday night, as the weblog Harry’s Place has observed, the BBC website ran an article headlined “Bus man may have seen terrorist”. By the next morning the headline appeared as “Passenger believes he saw bomber”. Another page on the site referred to “the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has seen”. By Friday lunchtime these words became “the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen”.

And this wasn’t an accident. Editors were following Section 11 of the BBC’s editorial guidelines which read: “The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term.” What is this, if not a disastrous loss in confidence? Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers puts up £9,000 (remember this figure the next time you are told that it is impossible to cut public spending without damaging services) to finance a Muslim extremist to travel to Britain and speak at a conference. We need him, say the Met, to contribute to “a debate into dealing with tensions in communities”.

So I’m afraid I can’t join into the orgy of self-congratulation that has followed the London bombings.

Yes, they struck close to home for many people and, of course, it is impressive that so many Londoners have been ready to get back on the Tube and travel to work. I can quite see why many find it frightening. All this was brave, the Blitz spirit, something to be proud of. But politically we have not been so brave, so immovable. And, barking though they may be, I think the terrorists can see this.

It is always difficult to counsel that we should understand less, be less curious. Yet in the War on Terror, to understand less is to comprehend more.


The Times, "Israeli prior knowledge of London bombings", 13 July 2004.


Jerusalem Post, "Jewish official: It's like J'lem here", 7 July 2005.
    It is not yet known if there are any Jewish casualties, but so far there have been no such reports to the Board of Deputies, Pearlman said.

The Insider, "Israeli intelligence agents watched and filmed 9/11 attacks", 19 February 2004.

The Insider, "Israeli agents arrested on 9/11 sue USA", 15 September 2004.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 14 July 2005.

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Tags: London, bombings, Israelis, warned, Mossad, Jewish, prior, knowledge, Jews, , conspiracy theories.

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